Quarantine measures during a coronavirus outbreak can play an important role in reducing infections and deaths, a review has found.
Researchers examined the findings from 29 studies that modelled how quarantine affects the spread of coronavirus in different countries.
They concluded that quarantine is most effective and less costly when introduced early and alongside other control measures, such as school closures and travel restrictions.
The rapid review from Cochrane, a non-for-profit organisation that analyses health research, found that the studies “consistently concluded that quarantine is an important public health measure to reduce the number of people infected and the number of deaths”.
Quarantine alone or in combination with other public health measures to control #COVID19. Read the Cochrane Rapid Review https://t.co/TK5JzHFbqt and hear from the authors https://t.co/4v19ftXQEe pic.twitter.com/4THvekaxcZ— Cochrane (@cochranecollab) April 8, 2020
The review authors added: ”For both effectiveness and resource use, early and efficient implementation of quarantine seems to be key.
“Combination of quarantine with other prevention and control measures showed the greatest effect in reducing transmissions, incident cases, and mortality.
“In order to maintain the best possible balance of measures, decision makers must constantly monitor the outbreak situation and the impact of the measures implemented.”
The authors emphasised that their findings were based on limited evidence and rated their confidence in the results as “low or very low” due to the way study models were developed.
They stressed it was important for information from a local context is used when deciding how measures such as quarantine should be handled.
Evidence analysed for the review was drawn from 10 studies focused on Covid-19, 15 related to Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), two focused on Sars and other viruses and two on Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
The 10 studies addressing Covid-19 modelled outbreak scenarios in China, the UK, South Korea and on a cruise ship.
The Cochrane review concluded that quarantining people exposed to confirmed virus cases may avert high proportions of infections and deaths when compared to no measures.
It found that quarantining travellers from a country with a declared outbreak had a small effect on efforts to stop transmission and deaths.
The combination of quarantine with other prevention and control measures, such as school closures, travel restrictions, and physical distancing, had a greater effect on the reduction of transmissions, cases which required critical care beds, and deaths when compared with the introduction of quarantine alone.
The review authors also concluded that early and comprehensive implementation of prevention and control measures may be more effective in containing the Covid-19 outbreak.
Lead author Barbara Nussbaumer-Streit said “This Cochrane Review shows that while quarantine may help in containing the Covid-19 outbreak, decision-makers will need to constantly monitor the outbreak situation locally in order to maintain the best possible balance of measures in place, and that there is an acceptable trade-off between benefits and harms.”